I’ve heard it said that clear writing is clear thinking. Or clear thinking is clear writing? Either way, I think it explains why this has been so hard lately.
I have not felt my sharpest lately, which surely has a lot to do with *gestures broadly* all this. It’s not that I’m unable to function at my work-from-home job or do the things I absolutely need to do in order to live, but outside of what feels like muscle memory I’m just coasting. I should be doing more than just watching The X-Files and playing Halo 3, and I don’t mean that in the, “I can’t believe I haven’t learned a new language during social isolation,” way. I was never really hoping to achieve anything new in this time, but I wish I could grow in the things I already know more than I have been. I’d like to be calcifying my beliefs about what a better world could look like while so much is rapidly changing and the shortfalls of our systems and structures become even louder than they were before. I’d like to take what I’ve learned about topics like race, class and public health in America and expand upon it while seeking ways to turn these ideas into some kind of praxis.
Kendra and I are watching (or rewatching) all of director Christopher Nolan’s films this summer in reverse-chronological order. While rewatching The Dark Knight Rises this week for the first time since it came out in 2012, I felt a pang of something I can only describe as embarrassment in the way this film’s failures felt familiar to me. The Dark Knight Rises is a huge film that does not support its own weight. It is simultaneously trying to top the spectacle of 2008’s The Dark Knight, match the idiosyncrasies of that movie’s iconic villain with Tom Hardy’s Bane, and also attempting to bring in class analysis of Gotham City. None of these ideas are bad, but none of them are given what they need to succeed in the film. Bane is an interesting enough villain until the plot of the film tosses him aside in favor of a twist, and the class commentary that’s woven into his motivations at the beginning completely disappear by the end of film, bearing no importance to the actions of Batman or the outcome of the story. The result is a film about so much that it’s actually about very little.
I don’t know what it’s like to write a big budget film, but I do know what it’s like to have half-formed ideas and be unable to articulate or order them in any meaningful way outside of myself. I also know what it feels like to try to compensate for the incompleteness of my thinking by yelling louder and about even more things.
It’s easy to be inspired by a truth—it’s hard to follow where it leads and even harder to see it all the way through.
Jordan Petersen Kamp graduated in 2017. He works as the controller for Trellis, a certified Herman Miller furniture dealer located in West Michigan. In his spare time he enjoys talking about the books and albums he looks forward to reading and listening to someday—the ones that he’s definitely heard of but not heard or read yet.